Tuesday, March 27, 2007

From Hero to Zero

Every bit of good karma I’ve earned in the last few weeks has just been wiped clean away from The Almighty Scorekeeper’s chalkboard. Let me now confess my sin in front of my family and the internet. And then let it never be spoken of again, or at least until he’s eighteen.

Sam loves his security blankets. He has three. Red. Blue. Yellow. When he was first getting used to a big boy bed, he would make us put each blanket on him in a particular order. It’s been a constant for nearly three years. Red, with its cute little sailboat motif, has always been his favorite.

Red was freshly out of the laundry tonight. Sam excitedly grabbed it and then stopped in his tracks.

“Awwww. It’s too dry, Mommy.”
“Do you mean it’s still wet, Sam?”
“Here, spread it out on the bed and we’ll see if it’s dry enough when story time is finished.”

While speaking to my brother on the phone, I overheard all this, and as the father who perceives himself to be of quasi-superhero status these days, I figured I would solidify my ranking. I grabbed the blanket from the bed and strolled confidently downstairs.

It’s been said in the past that engineers who excel in their field sorely lack in common sense. It might have even come out of my mouth on the odd occasion. I also used to be a shining example of this maxim from time to time. All through college, my best friend Brian would always be there to let me know exactly when I ventured into this “idiot savant walking” category. If Brian were here tonight, he would be sitting on the couch, his head in his hands, tears dripping to the floor through his white-knuckled fingers.

Instead of walking down to the basement and adding Red to the ongoing laundry battle, I chose a short cut and strode into the kitchen. I placed two paper towels down inside, and gently nestled Red into our microwave for a quick atomic blow dry.

In the eternal contest between smart and dumb, Team Genius forfeited this game.

I whistled a happy father-of-the-year tune as I loaded the dishwasher and patiently waited for the “ding”. Did I forget to mention that I put Red in for two minutes? Yeah, I guess I did.

I actually heard it before anything else seemed dreadfully wrong. A faint hissing was emanating from inside. I stopped the timer at :17 and opened the door. To me, the hissing meant that things had progressed to their natural end, and the blanket was piping hot and dry. It was then that I opened poor Red and saw a bunch of orange glowing spots where the pretty sailboats had happily lived only a minute before.

And then I smelled the burning.

I actually wrinkled it back up in the singular hope that Leah had slipped a hallucinogen into my enchilada at dinner. When I looked again, the spots had fornicated. Their gestational period is hereby recorded for science as five seconds.

My fate now sealed, I turned on the faucet and did my duty as Smoky the Bear instructed us all years ago. Here’s the end result of my efforts.

I trudged upstairs and into our bedroom. I plopped myself down on the bed. I looked Leah in the eyes.

“I’m in sooo much trouble.”

We’ll fast forward past putting the boys to bed, wherein Leah kept staring at me, thinking that I was wanted by the police, and stop at the moment when I could tell her what I’d done outside the hearing range of our oldest son. Picture a mouth hanging open, a hand covering an exclamation, possibly a mild profanity or two, and then laughter. Laughter because she knows exactly how stupid I am, and how far down I have just knocked myself from my pedestal.

Fast forward a little more, to the point in time when the boys are all finally asleep, when Leah has come to easy terms with the fact that I am in dire, dire need of her help, and has opened up my mother’s old sewing machine. She’s going to cut out the section with the burns and patch Red back together. A little toddler triage, per se.

Now she phones Lisa and relates my pathetic story, ostensibly to get her assistance with the sewing machine, but more likely just to pile on. Mikey was within earshot as well. Ahhh, family. I can’t wait to see the fallout from this one.

So now, here we are, Leah prepared to perform a rather major surgical alteration on Sam’s favorite nighttime companion, and me, well, I’m preparing to tell my child a great, big, honkin’, prevarication.

“Don't worry, Pal. It's not the size that counts.”